It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).
Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?
With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.
April 29, 2016
#3) Brian Elliott, St. Louis: 40 saves/42 shots, Loss
This save on Janmark was huge, as I thought it was a sure goal. It kept the Blues only down 1-0 and moments later they tied the game on a blast from Shattenkirk. It didn’t matter as the Stars responded shortly after that with the eventual game-winner, but Elliott kept his mates in a game that clearly wasn’t their best. Maybe they were still reveling in the elimination of Chicago, maybe not. But for a road game they played okay, and almost won thanks to their tender’s heroics. Yeah, I picked him just for this save.
#2) Joel Ward, San Jose: goal, assist
As they mentioned on the national broadcast about 70 thousand times, Ward was brought over from the Caps last summer because of his past prowess in the playoffs and San Jose was rewarded as they came back from a 1-0 deficit to push past the Preds 3-1 eventually. The play on the second Sharks goal was started on an intercept by Norris Trophy finalist Brent Burns in the neutral zone who fed Donskoi the puck, who then found Ward streaking down the center of the ice and the rest, as they say, was history. That play swung the momentum pendulum in the Sharks favor enough for them to power ahead to a 4-2 home ice victory. Oh yeah, and he was a physical force all night (five hits) and won 57% of his face-offs.
Joel Ward once told me he talks to his mom before every game and that she tells him to “trick the goalie.” He tricked Pekka there.
— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) April 30, 2016
What a beauty pic.twitter.com/Tg0zx3LoUf
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 30, 2016
#1) Radek Faksa, Dallas: GWG, assist
His shot created the rebound that Roussel scored the game’s (and series’) opening goal and then his hustle and vision led to his chipping in a rebound of Ales Hemsky’s shot that wound up as the winning goal. Not to mention he made a huge block in the game’s final minute to help stave off a St. Louis charge and he defended the next twenty seconds without a stick (broken on the shot block). He fired four shots on goal, had three hits, blocked two shots and had a takeaway in a great all around game for a player that doesn’t get much pub outside of Dallas.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 30, 2016
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) April 30, 2016
Braden Holtby (Wash): 6
Brian Elliott (StL): 6
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 5
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
John Tavares (NYI): 5
Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 4
Tyler Johnson (TB): 3
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 3
Antti Niemi (Dall): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3
Troy Brouwer (StL): 3
TJ Oshie (Wash): 3
Radek Faksa (Dall): 3
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 2
Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2
Tanner Pearson (LA): 2
Frederik Andersen (Ana): 2
Ben Bishop (TB): 2
Mikko Koivu (Minn): 2
Sami Vatanen (Ana): 2
Shane Prince (NYI): 2
Nick Bonino (Pitt): 2
Joel Ward (SJ): 2
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.